The Steelers drafted Marcus Gilbert last season to possibly be the future left tackle of the Pittsburgh Steelers. When the season started Gilbert was second string behind Jonathan Scott. The Steelers went with the veteran at Left Tackle. Gilbert was expected to be the swing tackle behind Scott and Colon.
Then Willie Colon went down with a season ending injury in game one against the Ravens. It forced Gilbert into the lineup to play Right Tackle. He played the entire season at Right Tackle and did not do a bad job. As the season went along Gilbert progressed and became a good right tackle. He seemed suited for the position.
Coming into the offseason though, the Steelers let Gilbert know that he should prepare to play Left Tackle next season. Willie Colon can not play the left side and god knows the Steelers will never put Jonathan Scott there ever again unless they have to. So Gilbert had to shift to that side. He played the position in college and is the best option we have at left tackle.
That was until we drafted Mike Adams. Adams is a prototypical sized left tackle. Adams is 6’7 and 325 pounds. He has long arms and can engulf a defender. Adams is what many teams salivate for when it comes to that type of player.
Adams should not have fallen to the second round. He was the second best left tackle prospect on my board. He had some issues with marijuana in college and at the combine. He also was involved in the Ohio State scandal and had to miss 5 games his senior year because of it. Add to that Adams has always had natural talent and would tend to get lazy at times and boom he ends up in the second round.
The Steelers could not have been more happy that he did. Adams was off the Steelers draft board after lying to the team about the drug use before the combine. He personally requested a meeting with the team. They did not seek him out. Adams came in genuinely apologetic and let the team know he would do anything to try to be a Steeler. The Steelers gave him some objectives to reach if he wanted back in. Adams reached those objectives and the Steelers decided he was worth the risk.
The Steelers had Adams rated as a first round prospect. He was a left tackle on their board and that is where he will practice this offseason. It was his position in college and it seems to be the one he is best suited for in the NFL. The Steelers are counting on Adams to get his head on straight. If he does and he gets the coaching he needs from Sean Kugler, which he will, then the team got a Pro Bowl type left tackle in the second round of the draft. It could not be more of a win.
So if Adams is the future at left tackle I think he also needs to be the present as well. It may cause some bumps and bruises at the beginning but the team will be better for it. Why is this? It is because Marcus Gilbert can stay on the right side and play the position he was meant to play. The line can grow together. They are all young and could grow up as a group. The more chemistry they get now the better they will be in 2013 and beyond.
To switch Gilbert to the left side for one season is ridiculous. He is a RIGHT TACKLE. That is what I had him pegged to be when he went into the draft and he proved last season that he can grow into a force at right tackle instead of an adequate left tackle. That is where he belongs. It is where he will be the better player.
That being said he is still developing. He still has plenty of room to grow. He is still getting down the technique and the footwork for the right side. To move him to the left side to learn those techniques all over again will only slow him down when you have to move him back next season. Adams will be the left tackle by 2013. If that is the case this will just put Gilbert a year behind. He will have to start all over again. He will have to learn a new position for a third time in 3 years. It will impede his development.
Many really good offensive linemen have tried to switch from the left side to the right side late in their careers to try and stay in the league and struggled. Why put this struggle on Gilbert? He proved where he belonged last season and he has the ability to stay there now with the addition of Adams. I do not care how much Willie Colon’s contract makes it so he has to be on this team. His contract doesn’t say he is better then Gilbert, nor does it say he has to start. When it was just Colon and Gilbert sure it made sense. Now it doesn’t.
This offensive line has the ability to be set in stone right now. Coach Kugler has already talked about how the team wants to get one offensive line out there all the time. He was forced to shift guys around in the past due to injuries and poor play. He now has the guys that he needs to build a strong offensive line. He is not going to want to have guys switch positions year in and year out. He wants stability. He wants to put these young guys in and get the ball rolling.
The Steelers offensive line should have Adams at LT, Pouncey at C, DeCastro at RG, and Gilbert at RT. Colon, Foster and Legursky can fight for the last spot on the line. But what your line is going to look like for the next 10 years is sitting right in front of you now. They can grow up with one another and dominate the line of scrimmage. Why slow that down and push it back a year or two. You can get the bumps and bruises out of the way now and dominate sooner rather then later.
Gilbert is the Right Tackle. Leave him be and let him and this group grow.